LAS CRUCES – The agriculture industry is an ever-changing field due to stressors such as varying weather conditions and changing market prices. And as a result, mental health issues and suicide rates have increased in farming communities. To provide assistance to agricultural producers and their families, the New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service, the New Mexico Department of Agriculture and the Bureau of Agriculture and New Mexico Livestock have joined forces to support Here to Help New Mexico.
The project was set up with funding from the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network through a $500,000 grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture of the States Department of Agriculture -United. Through the Southwest Border Food Protection and Emergency Preparedness Center, Here to Help New Mexico will strengthen existing efforts to increase stress prevention, wellness, and health resources.
As part of this collaboration, Extension will use its expertise in community outreach to deliver educational programs in communities across the state. Southwest Border Food Protection and Emergency Preparedness Center co-director Tom Dean acknowledges the difficulties of having conversations about topics such as behavioral health.
“Most people don’t want to talk about it on a public program,” Dean said. “Our priority is to manage stressors and stress management. If we can do this, we can help promote these conversations after community meetings and help people identify when someone might be having trouble with issues.
Here to Help New Mexico’s goals include improving behavioral health, reducing and alleviating stress, and delivering positive outcomes for the state’s farming communities.
“As they face endless difficult challenges – including drought, wildfires and high input costs – our farmers and herders need our support more than ever, especially when it comes to stress and mental health,” New Mexico Agriculture Secretary Jeff Witte said. “The pressure to feed the world is real. While our New Mexico farmers and ranchers are resilient, they are not immune to stress, so it is important that these resources are available.
In addition to helping agricultural producers and their families, Here to Help New Mexico will also help families who have been impacted by recent wildfires in the state.
Not only will Extension share Here to Help New Mexico educational programs across all 33 counties of the state, but Extension teachers have been trained to recognize signs of mental health issues, especially when working with involved youth. in agricultural programs.
“We’re trying to do what we can to build our resources and capacity to do more of that,” Dean said. “If we can help someone get a more positive outcome and resolve the issues, that’s the impact we hope to have.”
The Here to Help New Mexico website offers information on mental health issues, steps to help someone with emotional pain, crisis hotline numbers, a survey to access stress and health and “Stress Free You” videos by Matt Rush, who has done considerable research on the subject.
Nationally, the new 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, launched July 16, is a service that provides 24/7 support for mental health crises.
To learn more Here to help New Mexico, visit www.heretohelpnm.com.
Tiffany Acosta writes for New Mexico State University Marketing and Communications and can be reached at 575-646-3929, or by email at [email protected]